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String Quartet Nos. 2 And 4, Lyric Movement (Dante Quartet)

Dante Qt , Edmund Rubbra , Michael Dussek Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Composer: Edmund Rubbra
  • Audio CD (19 Nov 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Dutton
  • ASIN: B00005RT5N
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 355,533 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 35
2. Scherzo Polimetrico (Vivace assai)
3. Cavatina (Adagio tranquillo)
4. Allegro
5. Lyric Movement for String Quartet and Piano - Edmund Rubbra
6. Meditations on a Byzantine Hymn 'O Quando in Cruce' - Edmund Rubbra
7. Andante moderato ma liberamente - Allegretto scherzando
8. Adagio E Con Molta Espressione

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Review

Dutton deserves many congratulations in making them [String Quartets] available in such excellent performances. Recommended with enthusiasm. -- The Penguin Guide to CDs and DVDs 2003-4 edition

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Verified Purchase
Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986) was a very prolific composer, and has to his credit eleven symphonies, concertos, a body of magnificent choral music and a fair amount of chamber music, including four string quartets. Self-promotion was anathema to him and may account, in part, for his relative neglect until recently. Much of his music was influenced by his deeply religious and mystical outlook.
Dutton have recorded a number of Rubbra's chamber works, including the Piano Trio in One Movement and the three violin sonatas. This disc is their first venture into the string quartets and includes the 2nd and 4th as well as the Lyric Movement for String Quartet & Piano and the Meditations on a Byzantine Hymn 'O quando in Cruce' in the version for two violas.
The second quartet (1952) is a very fine work which begins with a statement of the basic material (the interval of the 4th is important) which then grows, the initial rather deliberate tempo becoming faster then slower but accelerating overall, something very characteristic of this composer. The delightful Scherzo Polimetrico is highly rhythmic, the cross-rhythms caused by the instrumental parts being written in different time signatures. The very beautiful, meditative Cavatina is food for the spirit. The final allegro returns to the flexible tempo, tension increasing with the speed.
The short Lyric Movement (1929) used material from a discarded string quartet. The piano writing at the beginning briefly pre-echoes the Piano Quartet in One Movement of over 20 years later. Rubbra's mature style had not evolved yet but the music, with its intense lyricism, is gorgeous all the same and Herbert Howells comes to mind at times.
A more austere lyricism pervades the Meditations on a Byzantine Hymn for two violas.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two important quartets by Rubbra 25 April 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986) was a very prolific composer, and has to his credit eleven symphonies, concertos, a body of magnificent choral music and a fair amount of chamber music, including four string quartets. Self-promotion was anathema to him and may account, in part, for his relative neglect until recently. A small man with twinkling eyes, he was very modest and was always delighted if someone, however humble, expressed an appreciation of his music. An academic musician of his acquaintance rang him one afternoon and someone had to fetch him in from the garden where he was mowing the lawn. When he got to the telephone, Rubbra apologised profusely at being caught out doing such an uncomposerly thing and promised he would get down to some composition as soon as he had finished. Much of his music was influenced by his deeply religious and mystical outlook.
Dutton have recorded a number of Rubbra's chamber works, including the Piano Trio in One Movement and the three violin sonatas. This disc is their first venture into the string quartets and includes the 2nd and 4th as well as the Lyric Movement for String Quartet & Piano and the Meditations on a Byzantine Hymn `O quando in Cruce' in the version for two violas.
The second quartet (1952) is a very fine work which begins with a statement of the basic material (the interval of the 4th is important) which then grows, the initial rather deliberate tempo becoming faster then slower but accelerating overall, something very characteristic of this composer. The delightful Scherzo Polimetrico is highly rhythmic, the cross-rhythms caused by the instrumental parts being written in different time signatures. The very beautiful, meditative Cavatina is food for the spirit. The final allegro returns to the flexible tempo, tension increasing with the speed.
The short Lyric Movement (1929) used material from a discarded string quartet. The piano writing at the beginning briefly pre-echoes the Piano Quartet in One Movement of over 20 years later. Rubbra's mature style had not evolved yet but the music, with its intense lyricism, is gorgeous all the same and Herbert Howells comes to mind at times.
A more austere lyricism pervades the Meditations on a Byzantine Hymn for two violas. Rubbra used the word `meditation' when he meant `variation' though in a freer sense. This is a fascinating piece for a very unusual combination.
Rubbra's last quartet, No 4, was first performed in 1977. Of the major works, only the 11th symphony and the Sinfonietta were to come. To me, this is the most elusive of the quartets but this performance by the Dante Quartet has clarified things no end, no doubt the result of careful thought and adequate rehearsal. The interval of the 7th plays a vital role in this work. The first section of the first half is characterised by a proliferation of ideas which can be hard to follow at first. The second section is faster and the music presents no problems. The beautiful second half is elegiac and deeply felt - a fitting conclusion to his quartet oeuvre.
The Dante Quartet give good performances throughout and they seem particularly successful in shaping the works. The recording, made at The Maltings, Snape, is good too. The insert notes by John Pickard are full and knowledgeable and include a lovely photo of Rubbra sitting by his piano at home which makes a change from the regular ones seen in CDs. Let us hope Dutton do the other two quartets now.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An overall valuable release 13 Aug 2011
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Edmund Rubbra's symphonies have been well-served on disc through the pretty much revelatory Chandos cycle. I suppose his string quartets have received less critical attention, but they are actually pretty well served on disc as well - although I am only familiar with these very fine performances by the Dante Quartet of the second and fourth there are versions of the whole cycle by the Maggini Quartet and Sterling Quartets as well (and versions of the second by the Griller Quartet and the English Quartet). Overall the quartets are tonal, at least intermittently melodious but formally and harmonically inventive and individual.

The substantial second quartet is perhaps the most immediately attractive. It is rather "straight-to-the-matter" in character, avoiding unnecessary ornamentation in favor of formal and textural clarity. It sports a particularly stirring first movement, which contains something of a big tune that is never quite unambiguously asserted. The scherzo is an appealing exercise in cross-rhythms whereas the Cavatina is a flowing though somewhat insubstantial transition to the expressive fourth movement. It is overall a very compelling work that deserves wider circulation.

The fourth quartet, in two movements, is overall a little more elusive. Indeed, I am not sure this is anything close to a great work, but I can still not shake the feeling that something here is still eluding me. The first movement is brooding, culminating in a boisterous coda, and to my ears formally lopsided - though the Dante Quartet appears to do as good a job of it as one could hope for. It is followed by a brooding, introspective slow movement that ends with a remarkable, noble gesture - the problem is that you (or at least I) as a listener are left wondering "why?" As fillers we get the charmingly pastoral if not very profound Lyric movement for string quartet and piano (Michael Dussek) and a Meditations on a Byzantine Hymn `O Quando in Cruce' for two violas. In the latter we get a series of brief, free meditations on a plainchant; it is cleverly done, but sounds more like an academic exercise than anything supposed to be listened to.

Rubbra's music is always in danger of sounding dry and dull in the wrong hands. The Dante quartet, however, sounds fresh, warm and wholly sympathetic to the compositional voice. Although Rubbra himself complained that musicians played his music too fast, the Dante quartet seems to me to fully realize the music's potential at speeds that are relatively brisk compared to some competitors. That said, the phrasing is not always ideally smooth in the absolutely fastest parts, and the recorded sound is decent but not spectacular - it may sometimes become hard and is sometimes less than ideally balanced. Still, this is a very valuable issue and an easy recommendation to fans of twentieth century chamber music.
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